Wednesday, 28 May 2014


A while back, I showed you fabric drying on the washing line and said it was destined for a particular project. Well, it's now time to reveal all.

Late last year, Clare, a colleague at work, forwarded a news release from NASA, the US space agency with the headline 'NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg invites quilters to contribute a star block'. Karen was on board the International Space Station and spent her limited spare time sewing. The invitation was to contribute a block to add to Karen's and they would all be combined to create quilts to be displayed at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this November.

In this video she explains the difficulties of sewing in space and sets the challenge.

How could I resist? Not only is this the only chance I'll ever have to exhibit something at IQF but it had that amazing link to the ISS. I'm regularly to be found in the garden watching it pass through the sky and find it incredible that I'm seeing something orbiting the earth thousands of miles away. There's a Spot the Station tool on the NASA web site where you can find out when it will be visible in your part of the world. It's really easy to spot - a bright white light moving quickly through the night sky.

And so, onto my block. I first saw the design in this post on Red Pepper Quilts. However, it was actually designed by Carol Doak and appears in her book Simply Sensational 9-Patch Stars. There are 50 blocks in the book, each representing an American State: this one is New Mexico.

It's foundation-pieced and I drafted the block to be sure it fitted the 9" size requirement.

The hardest part was deciding on the background fabric as nothing seemed quite right. Eventually I settled on the reverse of a grey spot. Here you can see the 'right' side. I learned the trick of using the reverse from a speaker at a quilt event who said it was a way of having 2 fabrics for the price of 1!

And this is my finished contribution to the challenge! What I'd really like to do is make a mini-quilt using the same block as a memento of taking part. However, knowing my time commitments and long list of other projects, if I don't get around to it, at least I'll have this post.

The block is going on its way this week. If you'd like to take part, all the details and requirements can be found here. You'll need to be quick though as all blocks have to be submitted by 1 August 2014. Otherwise, why not try to spot the Space Station as it passes over and imagine an astronaut with needle and thread in hand!

Fair skies and happy quilting! x

PS Something else astronomical - my last post was my 200th and I completely missed it!


  1. What a wonderful idea and a wonderful thing to be part of!! It is a shame that you will not get to see the quilt in person, but how great to know that you will be a part of it! Your block looks really lovely and such a great idea about using the reverse of the fabric - how clever are you! xx

  2. It looks great and what a fantastic project to contribute to!

  3. What an amazing quilt block, destined for an amazing project! This is a super post, Julie, your work is beautiful! I love the reverse fabric tip, that's incredible! I so admire the neatness of your piecing...Chrissie x

  4. Yes, but this is your 201st! I say celebrate it!! xx
    What a wonderful project! And thanks for the link to tell us where the Space Station is, I will check it out!
    And by the way, my sister lived in New Mexico for a few years. It's a gorgeous state! :-)

  5. I love your quilt block Julie it's beautiful, as your quilting always is. What a fantastic challenge to be part of! Funnily enough, we were able to see the International Space Station when we stood in the back garden a few weeks ago...we had looked up the website you have given here and knew it would be around 9pm we would be able to see it. I let Miss M stay up and we watched it was only visible to us for about 30 seconds, but it was pretty cool and Miss M was really excited by it!
    Marianne x

  6. Wow I am blown away by this. I'd never even thought how you might quilt in space....I'm not even very good here on earth with it!

    I think this is a fabulous thing to be involved with and what a special thing to do. I do hope you make your own quilt as a memory of this.